To General Brune November, 1799
To General Brune November, 1799
8 Brumaire, 8 year
I congratulate you, my dear and brave general, on your happy and glorious success in Holland. It is a death blow to the coalition and to the politics of the English government. I see that general Knox is to remain a hostage till the articles are fulfilled on the part of the enemy. That government is not very faithful in fulfilling articles of capitulation. When the Duke of Cumberland (son of George 2d) commanded the army of observation in Hanover in the year 1757, he signed articles of capitulation (the convention of Closterseven) to the Duke of Richelieu which the English government refused to fulfill, and a similar case occurred in the American war when the English general Burgoyne signed articles of capitulation to the American general Gates at Saratoga. If the English government (after their army is relanded in England) can find any pretence to avoid fulfilling the articles they will do it. But whether they fulfill them or not, it is a glorious conquest. There is now no more new coalition to be raised. Every Nation in Europe (except Denmark) has entered in coalitions against republican France and France has defeated them all. When I look back to three or four months, and compare the glorious state of things now, with the wretched state of things then, I feel astonishment. The brave Dewinter I understand is with you, please to present to him my respects and my congratulations. I hope to see him again at the head of a Batavian Navy, and the days of Van Trumpt renewed.
England is certainly powerful at sea, but in the American war she was inferior to the combined fleets of France, Spain, and Holland, and will be so again. There will be no safety on the ocean till that tyrannical power be reduced, or a revolution affected in that country. In military tactics they have neither skill nor experience. There is not an English general that knows how to command more than ten thousand men. As I have always intended to write a history, in English, of the revolutions I have seen I shall with double pleasure record this glorious exploit in Holland, and that I may do it full justice, I will at some future day, when you have leisure, ask you for some particulars.
As the Batavians will now have to raise a new Navy, and can not confide in the officers that surrendered the fleet to the enemy, they will, of consequence, have a new corps of officers to raise. I have a friend, an American, who has been bred up to sea from his infancy, and is very desirous of serving under Admiral Dewinter. He is in the prime of life, brave, and a complete seaman. He has purchased national property in France, sufficient to live upon at land, but his element is the sea. He is an intimate acquaintance of General Olivier who is returned to Paris from Italy in good health, but with the loss of a leg.
I am much concerned at the fate of an old friend of mine, Napper Tandy, delivered to the English by the Senate of Hamburg, at the instigation of Paul. Should any circumstances put it in your power to befriend him I confide in your patriotism to do it.
I have been passing some time at this place at the house of a friend who lives here. I shall stay here two or three months. It was my intention to have come to Holland if the war had continued. Nothing would have given me more pleasure than to have seen the John Bulls (les Jean
Taureaux) defeated. However I live in hopes of seeing a descent upon England. If you find a moment to spare it will give me great pleasure to receive a line from you. Direct to me at Bonneville’s N. 4 Rue Theatre Frangais, Paris who will forward it to me. Sincerely wishing you a continuance of your health happiness and success, I remain your affectionate friend,